Really, Queenie bears practically no resemblance to the real Queen Elizabeth I. She’s capricious, cruel, and not very bright. She beheads people for nothing in particular. She’s swayed by emotion without concern for what’s best for her country or her people. She is, quite frankly, the exact opposite of the real Queen Elizabeth in many ways. Which is something you might think a pedant and history buff would have a serious problem with. And I don’t know if it’s Miranda Richardson as an actress or the quality of the scripts or both, but I can’t help laughing at and with Queenie regardless of my own feelings on the subject.
Genuinely, though, I think Miranda Richardson is one of those actresses I’ve never seen be bad in anything. It’s not that I’ve never seen her be in bad things, though even that is relatively rare. Maybe I’ve just been lucky at what of hers I’ve seen, for that. But I even have a certain respect for the ludicrous, over the top, Sleepy Hollow sort of projects she does. At the very least, you can’t say that she isn’t giving the roles her all, putting in the same level of work as she does for more critically acclaimed films like Tom and Viv and The Crying Game.
In fact, her Damage nomination—she’s one of the people who lost to Marisa Tomei and My Cousin Vinnie—was in the same year as The Crying Game and why I always think of her as having been nominated for The Crying Game. Part of it is that I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen Damage. Part of it is that she’s just that good in The Crying Game. Her character is cruel and ruthless. She’s not capricious; in fact, Jude is extremely calculating. She’s quite good at being calculating when that’s what the character calls for, just as she’s good at being capricious if that’s what the character does.
To a certain extent, she does have that Distinguished British Actor sort of career; she’s definitely played the standard assortment of historical queens, and not just the fictionalized version of Blackadder II. She’s played Queen Mary, wife of George V. She’s played the Duchess of Kent, Queen Victoria’s mother. She’s played Queen Isabella of Castile. And on the other end of the sociopolitical spectrum, her debut in film was as the last woman to be executed in the UK. She’s played historical and literary figures of all sorts.
I am always glad to hear she’s going to be in things that already interested me. It’s hard for me to remember that she’s old enough to be Madame Tracy, because the character in my mind is on the high end of middle age. That Richardson is 64 doesn’t quite occur to me. She, like Bernadette Peters and a few others, remains a younger woman with a wild streak for the most entertaining and imaginative roles. I’m sure she’d agree there are worse ways to be thought of, especially since I also tend to think of her as having a certain amount of class.